|A ‘fired up’ Matt Light is ready for a little competition at left tackle||08.03.11 at 8:17 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Matt Light has seen a lot in his 10 previous seasons with the Patriots. Three Super Bowl titles, an undefeated regular season and a season without Tom Brady in 2008.
But one thing he really hasn’t seen since he came on the scene in 2001 and established himself as the protector of Brady’s blind side is competition at the left tackle spot.
With the Patriots drafting Nate Solder out of Colorado in April and Light remaining unsigned as of last week, there were those who thought that might be changing. However, as of Wednesday night’s practice inside Gillette Stadium, Solder remains unsigned and the team officially welcomed back Light by announcing the team had come to terms on a new contract for No. 72.
“Hey, you know, competition is the name of the game,” Light said of Bill Belichick and the Patriots taking Solder in the first round. “There’s always going to be guys, pushing everybody at every level, when you have a coach like Bill and the rest of the staff. I think it’s a good thing. I think it drives all of us. That’s why we’re out here. We’re out here to compete – compete against each other, compete against the opponent. Drafting a guy that will come in and fill in for these old bones, it was inevitable. Hopefully we’ll have some fun teaching him a thing or two out here.”
Speaking prior to a special practice for invited guest and select fans inside Gillette Stadium Wednesday night, the 33-year-old veteran said he can’t wait to get back on the practice field and making another run at a Super Bowl with Brady.
“Hey look, I’m excited,” Light said of returning for a 11th season with the Patriots. “I’m excited for all these guys that are out here, for all the work both sides did to get this deal done. This is a heckuva time. We’ve been sitting around waiting for this moment. For me personally, my family and everybody else, we’re really excited to be back here in New England.”
Light, since he signed a new contract this week, can’t practice until Thursday but was on the field watching the practice Wednesday night.
“There has not been a time in my life that I’ve been more ready to play the game of football,” Light said. “I think being away from it, not being able to be around the guys, not being able to enjoy an offseason program like we do around here, for a lot of guys in our locker room it was painful.
“At the end of the day, it’s more this organization. I shared with the Kraft family what it meant for me to be a part of this over the last decade; the caliber of player they bring in, the work ethic, the expectations, everything all wrapped into one, there’s a reason we’ve been successful. There’s a reason guys want to play here. Again, like I said, I’m just happy to be a part of it for another year or two.”
“We’re all fired up for this,” Light said.
Light, who also served as the Patriots player representative during the 4 1/2 month lockout, said he didn’t know whether he’d be back for 2011 with New England.
“There’s always doubt unfortunately because it’s a business,” Light said. “I [thought] throughout this whole process this would be the outcome. We’re happy to be here.”
He said he never got serious about contacting another team once the players and owners came to terms.
“Once it picked it up [after the lockout], it got a little interesting real quick. There was a lot going on at that time, but at the end of the day, we’re back here where we belong.”
“He’s been a good player for us, no question about it,” added Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio. “His track record sort of speaks for itself but the reality is he going to come in here and he has a job to do and our expectations are the same for him are the same as they are for any other player. It’s good to have Matt here. We’ve got a lot of work to do, he’s got a lot of work to do so we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing but it’s good to have him back.”
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